Talking with 1Ls. Is this 2012 or 1994?

1L's are getting younger and younger.
Actually, these are my daughters
on their way to the first day
of school today!
I had a very pleasant conversation with a fresh-faced first year law student this morning as we waited for a bus that finally showed up 20 minutes late. Being 18 years removed from my 1L experience, it was interesting to listen to the excitement in her voice as she talked about the very familiar topics of orientation, picking up books at the bookstore, how nice the law librarians were at the school, how nervous she was getting called on to brief a case the first day of class, trying to interpret old English cases on contracts, and having 3Ls scaring the bejesus out of you. It suddenly hit me about five minutes into our conversation, that we could have been having this very same conversation when I was a 1L in 1994. 

Now, granted, this is a sample of one student, but she can't be too much outside of the norm of most students these days. First of all, the backpack she was carrying was about the same size she was. It's 2012… sure, we don't have those flying cars like Back to the Future promised us, but why in the world are law students still lugging around 30 lbs of books to class? The publishers of casebooks should be ashamed of themselves that they have not worked out the details with law schools to do away with physical casebooks. 

I know that there is a technique to training law students to "think like lawyers," but you'd think that by now the professors would be somewhat tired of teaching the Socratic Method. Sure, it's what they know… but it's like a rock band playing the same set of songs, year after year. You know they just have to be bored out of their minds. Could any law professor that teaches first year contracts law really get excited after they've taught 10-20 years of the same method?? I guess they are law professors… maybe they do.

The one thing that did stand out in the conversation was her answer when I asked if 1Ls were nervous about entering law school during a time when everyone in the world is saying "DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL." What surprised me was the fact that she didn't even blink when she talked about how genuinely excited she was to go to law school and how optimistic she was on her chances of entering the profession of practicing law… all this despite the fact that no one in her family was a lawyer. Now, maybe she was blissfully ignorant of the market, or she just felt that she was going to beat the odds. Here's hoping to the latter!

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Matthew Mantel said...

Please don't discourage them, we need the business.

Anonymous said...

There was an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education last week reporting a study that said that students still prefer print textbooks to electronic except in some cases where the professor is using all of the enhancements that come with the electronic text and that's at the undergrad level. We'll get there, but I don't think the electronic textbook is ready for prime time yet.

Thea Warner said...

Just learned that my 9th grader's geometry textbook is electronic. You can still request a print copy, but the electronic version is standard now.

By the way - I love the youngest daughter's pose in the photo. :-)


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